McEniery and Medical Board of Queensland

Application number:
1993 S0082
Decision date:
Monday, Feb 28, 1994
(1994) 1 QAR 349

McEniery and Medical Board of Queensland
(1993 S0082, 28 February 1994) 

This case contains a detailed analysis of s.42(1)(b) of the FOI Act, which is one of the most frequently invoked exemption provisions in cases proceeding to review by the Information Commissioner. 

The Information Commissioner concluded that the words 'a confidential source of information' in s.42(1)(b) mean a person who has supplied information in the understanding, express or implied, that his/her identity would remain confidential.  The Information Commissioner then analysed in some detail the kinds of factors which might give rise to an implied understanding of the requisite kind, when there was no express agreement. 

The Information Commissioner also explained the requirement that the information which the confidential source has supplied (or is intended to supply) be information relating to the enforcement or administration of the law, with particular focus on the meaning of the words 'enforcement or administration of the law'.

The Information Commissioner also attempted to explain the rationale for the common law's policy of protecting the identity of informers, even though persons accused of wrongdoing (especially if falsely accused) may feel they have a right to know who their accuser is (see paragraphs 56 and 64). 

The Information Commissioner also noted (paragraphs 12-14 and 65-66) other possible bases on which a person's identity, or information which would enable a person to be identified, may be exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act.